‘Irrefutable’ basis for beef price increase – McCormack

All market indicators now combine to make “an irrefutable case for an immediate and significant improvement in the prices paid to farmers for their cattle”, according to Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) president Pat McCormack.

Speaking in advance of the second meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce, McCormack said that the Bord Bia Beef Price Tracker is already proving invaluable.

Expanding on this, he said the tracker is “clearly showing” that Ireland’s main beef export markets have moved – and are continuing to move – “in a positive direction and with a momentum that has to signal an improvement in farmer beef price”.

‘Growing gap’

McCormack also pointed to other evidence in support of his demand for an increase in beef prices for farmers.

“For example, in the UK – where over half our beef is sold – the beef price is now exceeding €4.00/kg while the gap between the Irish and UK price is actually growing rather than falling.

“The gap between the Irish and UK price for R3 and O3 steers stood at 21c/kg and 18c/kg respectively in late July 2019, while the gap in early December stood at 37c/kg and 35c/kg respectively.

Today, based on current exchange rates and factory quotes, the gap has widened again to 42c/kg and 50c/kg respectively.

“That has to mean better prices for the farmers and it’s simply not acceptable to expect us to ignore the evidence of the data and our own eyes – particularly given the income position of beef farmers.”

The president said it is “absolutely obvious to all” that markets have improved, adding that meat factory members of Meat Industry Ireland (MII) need to immediately increase beef prices to farmers in line with market improvements.

“We have seen the gap between Irish and UK beef prices actually widen rather than narrow since mid-2019 and the upsurge in anger over the deliberate suppression of the prices paid to the farmers.

This gap is costing Irish farmers very significantly and is compounding the massive frustration of farmers who see markets improving but their prices remaining static.

Stressing that such a situation cannot continue, McCormack said an “immediate positive response” is needed from MII members.

‘Own interests’

“I genuinely can’t understand why the beef processors cannot see that paying fair prices is in their own interests if they are at all serious about keeping an ongoing supply of top-quality cattle?

“The evidence is irrefutable and there has to be a proportionate lift in farmer beef price straightaway,” McCormack concluded.